Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 (Switch) Review
I was so dang excited after enjoying the first Mega Man Legacy Collection, when it was announced that Capcom would be giving the Mega Man X series the Legacy Collection treatment. The first Collection was made with such care, full of nice extra features and content while leaving the games themselves totally faithful to source. I loved the original Mega Man games but Mega Man X was where I was introduced to the series, with it’s grittier and more modern aesthetic thanks to the more advanced systems the games were built for. Everything that made the original games what they were is present and accounted for here, but it’s missing a few features I feel are crucial in a collection that’s supposed to chronicle the series’ legacy.
If you’re unfamiliar with the X series, it was essentially the result of Capcom experimenting with how they could change up the Mega Man formula to take advantage of the new power and features of the Super Nintendo. What we got was an entirely new Mega Man, who explored newer and much more complex levels with new mobility options and could affect the environment through his actions. True to the past series, he would need to take down robots who had gone rogue one-by-one until finally reaching the lair of the Big Bad – levels that would really test players’ mettle before facing off against the villain themselves. Things would get a bit wild as the series soldiered on through generations of console hardware, but the foundations for a great series had been laid.
And things were great for a while with the series. The first three especially were considered impressive for their time and classics in retrospect. They experimented with the Mega Man formula, adding optional armour upgrades hidden in levels and leaning in to the rock ‘n roll aesthetic while leaning into the burgeoning popularity of anime in the west at the time to inform it’s character design. The later games in the series though, started making changes that were controversial at the time and still feel questionable. The extra capabilities of the PlayStation means the X games from that era have far more detailed environments and characters that can reduce clarity in level design — it’s sometimes unclear what is on the play space and what is set dressing. The CD format of the PlayStation also meant storage space for cutscenes and voice acting, pushing the series to do more direct storytelling and character interactions than before. Don’t get me wrong, the SNES X games had some dialogue at pivotal moments, but it’s especially clear when playing these games back to back how much the amount of dialogue increases, and how much it gets in the way of the experience of actually playing. During levels you have navigators giving you advice (which in a nice move, can be customised to the advice you actually want or turned off in some instances), you have long stretches of text boxes between levels when all you really want to do is get to the action. Things get even murkier when we get to the PlayStation 2 games, which introduce auto-aiming and 3D segments that really don’t have the same appeal the X games did before.
As a result, the controversial choice to split this collection into two volumes that release simultaneously may actually be a blessing. It is crummy that if you’re buying a physical copy, that you only get the first volume on the actual cart while Vol 2 is downloaded — but if you’re buying digitally it means you can don’t need to pay extra for the second volume if all you really want is the first 4 X games. That’s not to say the second volume isn’t worth your time, in fact, some of the changes to game structure introduced in X5, further emphasis on action with consequences and a more lenient continue system are really interesting to discover and help make these games a little more palatable to modern tastes. Regardless of which volumes you choose you are getting some great Mega Man games, but there are a few missing features I was expecting that make this new collection fall short of the benchmark set by the first Mega Man Legacy Collection.
You can save progress in exactly the same way as the original games, with a save prompt appearing anytime you see a password. There doesn’t seem to be an option for multiple save files for the earlier games which is unfortunate, but this was a built-in option for the games from PlayStation onwards where this has persevered. Unlike the earlier Legacy Collection though, there is no option for even one save state to save your progress mid-level. While purists might consider this a cheat and never use this feature anyway, it can be immensely useful if you hit a particularly tricky level section or boss. Saving you from needing to play through an entire level to try that troublesome section again can sometimes mean the difference between continuing in the game and just giving up.
The collections makes a good first impression by containing mountains of extra content, interesting curiosities like photos of out of print action figures, advertisements and soundtrack covers give the impression that the developers really put in a lot of work to dig up these treasures for fans. There’s also an extra ‘X Challenge’ mode which faces you with a series of 1v2 battles, fighting two mavericks simultaneously for an extra challenge. For those not seeking extra challenge, a Rookie Hunter mode ratchets down the difficulty a tad to help people play if the difficulty is too much. I found myself disappointed though when it came to extra content in the actual games. After its initial SNES release, versions of Mega Man X were made for CD based systems with re-arranged CD soundtracks and animated cutscenes to introduce the Mavericks you’d be fighting. While you can choose between the US and Japanese versions of each game, there doesn’t seem to be any option to choose the CD version of Mega Man X3, and so you can’t see or hear the extras these games had over their initial releases. More understandable, but still a little disappointing is the fact that Mega Man Maverick Hunter X doesn’t feature anywhere in this collection. A PSP remake of the original Mega Man X, it featured 3D visuals and re-worked music over familiar Mega Man X gameplay and levels. I might be expecting too much, indeed the original versions of each Mega Man X game are present and accounted for, but it’s unfortunate to me that a collection like this which includes so much of X’s legacy in games and general curiosities is missing some of the less obvious games and extras from the series’ past.
In the grand scheme, these are fairly minor complaints. Sitting back and considering what is on offer here, it’s pretty impressive. Volume 1 is full of games considered enduring classics, and Volume 2 is technically quite impressive. It’s hard to know exactly how Capcom have managed to get PlayStation 2 games to run on Switch, but from what I played of X7 and X8 it performed admirably, at least as well as the original games did. Whether it’s through emulation or some kind of port process, these games perform well on Switch hardware.
For not a lot of money, you’re getting a lot of Mega Man X. Most people will be happy with the originals, I’m only a little disappointed because I expected more from a Legacy Collection. In the end, what you get are the Mega Man X games, playing near exactly like they would on original hardware, but on a modern system that you can play anywhere. It’s missing some conveniences and features that would make it a true compendium of Mega Man X, but these games (particularly Vol. 1) are still incredible classics and this collection is a great way to discover – or rediscover the series.
It’s missing some features that would make it a true compendium of Mega Man X, but it’s still a great way to play the series today.
- First volume full of classics
- Fast paced running, jumping & shooting still great fun
- Nice collection of extra content for fans
- No save states
- No CD music options for games that had them
- No Maverick Hunter X
- Volume 2 less consistent quality-wise